The Naming of a Child

I’m back with my blog after a few weeks’ hiatus while I was gathering ideas, much as a squirrel gathers nuts for the winter.

When the latest Royal pregnancy was announced last week, bookies started taking bets on the name that would be bestowed upon the baby. Why such feverish interest in such a trivial matter as a baby name.

Naming a child is no trivial matter. A name brings a child into being. It gives them a shape, an identity, a history. Little wonder then that naming ceremonies form part of many of the world’s major religions. And in recent years, people with no fixed religion have begun to create their own rituals, with secular naming ceremonies.

Creating Naming Rituals

I was given the honour of presiding over the naming ceremony of a family member, the younger member of my own extended family. This ritual is often presided over by a secular celebrant, but as the ritual is so new, people are free to make their own rules. I was delighted to don druid’s garb and officially welcome this new and much treasured arrival into our clan.

Naming Ceremony
Me in druid garb at the naming ceremony

 

A secular naming ceremony is not so different from a christening, the naming ritual most of the gathering would have been familiar with. There were readings and a speech. Solemn promises were made. And two names were bestowed on the new arrival, names full of history and significance to both sides of the family. Old family names now brought back to life.

As I officially welcomed the child into the world and pronounced the names he had been given, the child made a sound, of delight, of recognition that a profound event had taken place, a ritual bordering on the sacred. A ritual that allowed the child to take his place in the world, with names that open the doorway to who he is.

 

Half Past Christmas

I originally published this in 2012 on my other blog, World of Writing, and it also appeared in the WORDS Anthology 2013.

Half Past Christmas is the hushed hour that comes just as Christmas morning breaks, an hour stolen from the Christmas juggernaut. You wake all a-tingle. The sky is the colour of ink, but the clock tells a different story. Something exciting is happening. You fancy you can hear Santa’s footsteps on the rooftop. Your stomach carries the memory of the years when you tumbled down the stairs, in search of Santa’s bounty.

You swaddle yourself in a dressing gown and slipper socks and creep downstairs, taking care to skip the creaky step. A veil shrouds the house. You don’t turn on a light, in case you pierce it.

Defiant embers still burn in the grate. On a table beside the couch, there is a plate strewn with crumbs and a glass with a dribble of milk on the rim, left for an incredulous child to find. You flick on the Christmas tree lights. They begin to dance on the walls, showing off their colours, pink, orange, yellow.

You nestle beside the tree. The lower branches tickle your face. The carpet feels scratchy underneath you. The house murmurs to itself; you listen to the quiet chorus of whirs, grunts and moans. Next to you is a pristine pile of presents. The paper crackles a little, as if quivering with anticipatiodn. You breathe in the smell of pine.

Christmas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

The house begins to stir. You hear doors open, running water, running feet. The veil is torn away. But as the day whirls around you, you hold fast to the memory of Half Past Christmas, the hour when you let yourself believe.